Interview with actor, Robert John Burke

Today I’m welcoming actor, Robert John Burke. Thank you, Bobby for stopping by!

 

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am frighteningly ordinary.

 

 

How did you get into the career of acting?

I got into acting through an experimental acting class in my high school. It also offered an internship with the professional equity acting company. Then it was onto college, where I attended the acting conservatory at SUNY purchase.

 

 

In one of your earlier films, you played the role of the well-known character of Alex Murphy in RoboCop 3. What was it like playing the part of a cyborg?

It was very daunting playing RoboCop three. I thought Peter Weller did such an amazing job that it should have been left alone. No Peter no sequel. I was resistant for about eight months and then I finally acquiesced. The physical demands of the role were great. It involved movement training with a man named Moni Yakin, who had also worked with Peter. He is a teacher at the Juilliard school and he’s amazing. I think if I did anything at all right in that role, I owe it to him.

 

 

In the horror film titled, Thinner, (that was based on Stephen King’s novel) you portrayed the main character of Billy Halleck. Tell us about that and did you encounter any challenges in playing such a diverse role?

Thinner was the ultimate role for me to play. Getting to hide under five hours of make up should excite any actor. But the schedule was pretty grueling. I would get in the make up chair at 2 o’clock in the morning to be ready to start shooting at 7 AM. Then shoot to about 10 PM in the evening.

I was a little disappointed with the way the film turned out. There were lots of different directions that people were pulling it in. Although I must say, quite a few people really enjoyed that film. Meeting Stephen King was a complete thrill.

 

 

Your other on-screen accomplishments include Limitless, 2 Guns, Safe and Dust Devil, just to name a few. Aside from your films, you’re also on the t.v. series: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Allegiance, Banshee, Nurse Jackie, Army Wives, and Rescue Me… (the impressive list goes on)… How do you maintain such a balanced schedule?

On paper it can look like I’m doing a lot of different projects. The reality is that I lead a very balanced life. There were times when I was doing two and three television shows at a time. But somehow it was always manageable. And to tell you the truth, it keeps things interesting that are a hell of a lot of fun.

 

 

Is there any one role that you find in particular to be your absolute favorite?

People ask you what’s the most fun or is there any one role that you find to be your favorite. I think there are several for different reasons. I’ve met a lot of really amazing people on all the productions I’ve been on. Got to travel to exotic and beautiful places. The work I’m most proud of is probably the work that the least amount of people have seen. Films like First Love Last Rites, The Unbelievable Truth, and No Such Thing, are among my favorites.

 

 

Aside from being an actor, you’re also a NY State Certified Firefighter. You helped with the rescue efforts during 9/11, mind telling everyone about that? 

My best friend was in FDNY, captain named Patrick J. Brown. He fell on 9/11/01. Because all of Long Island New York is voluntary fire service, I decided to join my local department and dedicate my service to his memory. It’s been 16 years. I think I missed my True calling.

 

 

What’s next for Robert John Burke?

I’ve taken some time off recently but I’m also developing several projects and working hard on them.

 

 

Where can fans follow you and your work?

I don’t really have a website or anything like that. Sometimes I’ll post pictures of a particular project I’m working on on social media. Certain shows I’ve been on, particularly SVU have legions of very loyal enthusiastic fans. So I treat them with great respect and try and post stuff that keeps them in the loop.

 

 

Any positive words of advice you’d like to share?

I rarely give advice. But I do make suggestions. I suggest people remember to be kind to each other. And I say remember because people forget. I have a coffee mug that says “be kind” on it. It reminds me because I don’t ever want to forget to extend even the smallest gesture to another person that could mean a great deal to that person at that moment. If we take care of the little stuff, the big stuff takes care of itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with paranormal investigator, Elizabeth Saint

Today I’m welcoming paranormal investigator, Elizabeth Saint from Destination America’s television series, Ghosts of Shepherdstown. Thank you, Elizabeth for stopping by!

 

 

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a big daydreamer with a lot of imagination. As a child, I’d say the one way people would use to describe me was weird. And I was, but weird in a way I just want to make you smile kind of way. However, the response was often “Ewww!” or, again, “You’re weird.” I really thought I’d be an astronaut one day or astronomer, but I had my magician, geologist, and government spy period in there as well. Whenever we took trips to the library I was always reading about ghosts, dinosaurs or outer space. I’m a tomboy and played a lot of sports and video games growing up. However, as much as I was active and social, I was always a bit of a loner. The paranormal experiences I had as a child I think contributed to that even more so as I didn’t feel as if I had anyone to talk to about them. My very first computer was a Macintosh 512Ke. It had the black and white graphics with a floppy disk drive. I would definitely contribute that and those Coleco games from back in the 80s (like Pac Man and Football) to my beginning fascination of technology. To this day, I’m a lover of science, the unexplained and the arts. I can’t imagine my life without one of them.

 

 

You’re a model, a paranormal investigator, an electrical engineer and also an actress. How do you find time to balance everything? And how did all this get started for you?

It all started after High School. I never imagined my life would have simultaneously gone so many different ways. It was a classic case of not really knowing what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. I started the college journey like most do. I was actually an Art major as I always had a strong background in graphic design, and it seemed like at least a good thing to start out with. About a month in, I received an opportunity to sign with a modeling agency in New York after taking a day trip with my roommate to Manhattan. With my parents blessing, I made the decision to withdrawal from classes that semester and take a chance on something I, quite frankly, wasn’t even sure I would be interested in. I remember going to my professors to have them sign off on my release, and what caught me by surprise was how emotional I was through the process. I knew I was about to start my adult life in a very unconventional way, and there was something scary yet refreshing about that. After a few years, I felt as though something was still missing in my life so I thought well maybe I should at least go back to school and see if that path is any better. I chose to enroll as a Computer Science major knowing it would be something I was good at. It was required as part of the curriculum to take an Introductory Electronic Circuits course, and after the first class I just fell in love with it! So, I immediately switched my major to pursue degrees in both Engineering and Electronic Engineering Technology. In that, I received a lot of wonderful professional opportunities in the field; even living out a lifelong dream I had working on a project at NASA via their reduced-gravity aircraft. Ultimately, I ended up taking a DoD Engineering job down in the DC area, and I’d say that is when a lot really changed for me. I began having a lot more paranormal experiences in the apartment I had just moved into to the point where I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I joined a paranormal team, Maryland Paranormal Research, which was definitely one of the best decisions I had made in my life as it helped opened up a part of me I had kept private for so many years. Short after, I started getting involved in local film projects, as a creative outlet, that quickly evolved to a part of my life I am very passionate about. Honestly, it’s always been a difficult thing to balance life between family and my passions. I’ve been guilty many times in the past of spreading myself too thin.

 

 

What’s it like being a paranormal investigator on Destination America’s television series, Ghosts of Shepherdstown?

Being an investigator for so many years prior to Ghosts of Shepherdstown, my favorite parts of being on the show would definitely be the history and collaboration. It’s rare on residential investigations to get the full picture of a haunting. You can do some research on the land and typically only get a night to investigate the location. Those nights are usually a hit or miss. On the show, we really immersed ourselves in the town for an extended period of time giving us lots of opportunities to collect really good evidence. With the help of Dana Mitchell, Chief Mike King, and Lorie Johnson, we were really able to paint a story of these spirits that we contacted during our investigations that helped create these beautiful period reenactments. Putting the show aside, it was a truly amazing experience to not only work with both Bill and Nick, but share the history of the people that once lived in Shepherdstown.

 

 

Tell us about Ghostly Gadgets and your engineered designs.

When we were filming Ghosts of Shepherdstown, Nick was talking to me about this show he would be filming that fall called Paranormal Lockdown. With my Engineering background, he asked if I’d be interested in making him something for the show. That something ended up being the E-Box they used on the Franklin Castle episode in Season 1. From there, I started making more designs, and that’s when Ghostly Gadgets was born. It’s been an incredible way to combine two of my passions in life, and hopefully contribute to moving the field forward in terms of utilizing technology to capture our subjective experiences.

 

 

Prior to conducting a paranormal investigation, how do you prepare yourself mentally for what you may encounter? Do you practice a certain routine?

It’s important throughout the process to remember why you are there. I find the desire to help someone, including spirits, with whatever is going on in their life or in their home trumps whatever feelings I might personally have on an investigation. So for me it was never really a mental thing. However, I have learned I do have to physically protect myself in preparing for an investigation. My best friend, who is a really talented artist, started making me protection bracelets years ago made of different stones that really help. When I didn’t do this, I found investigations left me very drained and, in extreme cases, would make me quite sick.

 

 

You’re also a sensitive. How would you describe that and when did you first realize that you had this ability?

My earliest memories of being visited by spirits go back to when I was about 4 years old. I think all kids experience these things to an extent. However, over time we are constantly told it doesn’t exist or just our imagination, and I think we just lose that part of ourselves. I wouldn’t say really it was any kind of an ability, but by not talking about it I believe, inevitably, those experiences just continued as I got older. I can’t tell you how many people, both friends and family, when the show came out said to me “I didn’t even know you were into the paranormal!” For me, I feel like a mutt in describing my experiences – a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Depending on the location, sometimes I can hear or see spirits, and other times I am just picking up on their mannerisms and emotions. Because of that, I think saying I’m sensitive to the paranormal makes more sense. A common misconception I think is that I’m some sort of psychic or medium. I know a lot of people would argue by saying, “Well, we can all say we are sensitive and have had sensitive experiences.” I absolutely agree! That’s why the majority of us have developed some interest in the field. After all the inexplainable phenomena I’ve experienced in my life, the true battle for myself is remaining open to receiving these experiences while combating the Engineer inside me constantly demanding scientific explanation or evidence. So much of science, however, is based off of observations rather than what we can physically see. I think if we keep that in mind, we can all get to a place where we are mentally willing enough to be “sensitive” on a more consistent basis.

 

 

As an actress, what kind of roles do you play and is there a favorite one so far?

They always tend to be rather dramatic roles. Not to sound extreme, but for some reason my characters are always either killing people or dying. My favorite role so far has been a recent one shot in England this past year for a horror film called “Howling” by Steven M. Smith to be released on Netflix in the spring. It was the first time I’ve had prosthetic work done to my face, and the transformation my character underwent both physically and emotionally was just an amazing experience.

 

 

Any upcoming projects?

Nothing I can announce yet, but it seems like 2017 is gearing up to be a busy year!

 

 

Where can fans follow you?

If you have Facebook you can go to Facebook.com/OfficialElizabethSaint. Twitter and Instagram are both @ElizabethSaint_. And my websites are ElizabethSaint.com and GhostlyGadgets.com.

 

 

Any words of advice?

Love what you do. My father always stressed that to me over the years, and I’ve found that simple mantra has allowed me to not only discover but fully explore my true passions in life.

 

 

 

 

elizabeth-saint

 

 

Interview with actor, Todd Robbins

Today I’m welcoming Todd Robbins, host of Investigation Discovery’s television series, True Nightmares. Thank you, Todd for stopping by!

 

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a performing and creative artist that has spent a lifetime immersed in the shadowy worlds of arcane popular entertainment, dark illusions and sinister realities.

 

 

You have quite the impressive background from being an actor, an author, magician and even a carnival performer. What has all that been like for you and what has been the drive that got you to where you are today?

I have always been drawn to character. I like life that has twists and turns. The safe and easy has never called to me.

 

 

You’ve worked for Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Tell us about that and what were some of the highlights of your performances?

Ripley’s is a brand that has presented reality as its most interesting and amazing for almost a hundred years. I love everything that this brand stands for, and it is an honor to have done a few things under its banner. It was a real challenge performing in their show in Branson, MO. That is a town where everything is false, and our show was a bit too real for their taste. When that show ended, I was very glad to get back to NYC, where anything is possible…good and bad.

 

 

You’re also the host of the television series, True Nightmares on Investigation Discovery (ID). What was the spark that got you into this role?

True Nightmares grew out of my theater show called Play Dead. I created that show with Teller (of Penn & Teller) and he directed me in it. That show was filled with stories of people, some good and some not so good, that had a relationship with death during their lives. We used magic as special effects to give a sense that these dead people were gone but they were not far away, and when they came back to visit the living, the resulting spectacle was terrifying. I was approached by Discovery Studios to develop a TV project along these lines and Investigation Discovery saw that I told true stories of dark people with a twist that was complimentary to the content of their channel but also an expansion of that they currently present. In the first meeting with the network I brought up the idea of have me “ghosted” in the reenactment scenes, popping up when things take a turn towards the evil. With Executive Producer Eddie Barbini, I developed the concept into a series. The result is a show that presents quirky stories of murder and mayhem that all have an ironic twist to them. I look upon my role not so much as a host or narrator, but much more of a storyteller. This lifts the series out of the docu-drama genre and puts it into a whole different field.

 

 

Share with everyone what your book, The Modern Con Man: How to Get Something for Nothing is about and where can readers get their very own copy.

This book is about the mind of the con artist, and the best way to understand it is to try out some simple cons and scams that you can perpetrate on your friends and family. The book, along with three DVDs that compliment it, are available on Amazon.

 

 

What have been some of your most memorable moments throughout your career?

I came upon the world of the sideshow when I was a teenager and was lucky to have learned how to do all the classic stunts like sword swallowing and fire eating from performers that were the last generation of true carnival and circus sideshow entertainers. It’s true that I have devoured somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000 light bulbs. I learned it from a fellow that did an act called The Human Ostrich and it consisted of him consuming things like lit matches and cigarettes, razor blades and tin cans.

 

 

Do you have any upcoming projects?

Yes. I am working on a wicked storytelling podcast that will be titled Dark Illusions, Darker Reality, and there are a couple of TV projects that are in the planning stages right now. One is a travelogue that tells the twisted history of places I visit called Down a Road, Darkly, and a few others that too early to speak about. Yes, the word “dark” does seem to be theme in much of what I do!

 

 

Where can fans follow your work?

They can follow me on twitter @toddrobbins, on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Todd-Robbins-923440934335323/ and at my website www.toddrobbins.com

 

 

Any words of wisdom you’d care to share?

Live each day as if it was your last, because one day it will be…and for many, it’s later than you think!

 

 

 

todd-robbins

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Marty Schiff

Today I’m welcoming actor and producer, Marty Schiff. Thank you, Marty for stopping by!

 

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Well… I don’t really know where to start. I’ve had a pretty interesting life… much of it is public knowledge. I have been focused on a career in entertainment since I was 10 years old. I started doing regional theater when I was 14. Sometimes working on three shows at a time, acting, building sets and rehearsing was common for me. By the time I was 20 I had already done two dozen shows in some capacity. Some things that are not as public are: I was a volunteer fireman for many years. I learned to drive a stick on a 1956 American La France fire truck. I have two wonderful children, both who have interests in production. My daughter works as a Production Manager for PBS and my son is finishing up college. I’ve survived some pretty serious health issues…. and you’d never know it. As the song says…”ain’t found a way to kill me yet”.

 

 

What was the initial spark that inspired you to go into the film industry?

I think, and believe, it was in my DNA. I was a TV junkie at a very early age. I can still tell you what was on the air on Saturday mornings in Pittsburgh during the early 60s. It started with a test pattern. My family was also very into going to movies. I was never a noisy child in a dark theater. My grandmother would take me to the Warner Theater on Fifth Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh nearly every Saturday. Drive-ins were big for my parents and siblings.

When I was 12 my father gave me a Kodak Brownie 8 mm movie camera. I shot hundreds of hours of film… most lost in the Northridge Earthquake in 1994. But it was my joy at a very early age. Again, without any formal training I knew how to set up shots, light, direct and edit short films. I was always daydreaming about shooting something and never paid attention much in school. My imagination was… and still is… off the hook. My goal was always to get to Hollywood… and did just that after getting my theater degree at the age of 23.

There is a very real possibility that a past life connected me to Hollywood. When I moved there in 1979 it felt extremely comfortable… not many people say that about Los Angeles… and I knew my way around without maps. I have a particular fondness for The Hollywood Cemetery and used to take my daughter there for “Picnics with the Demilles”… next to Cecil and Agnes DeMille’s burial plot.

 

 

Some of your earlier work include great titles such as Dawn of the Dead and Creepshow. What are some of the other films that you’ve worked on?

I think the one film I’m remembered most for is CREEPSHOW but my favorite film to work on, also a Romero work, was KNIGHTRIDER. It’s a non horror film but still great. Some lesser known are CHILDERN OF THE LIVIND DEAD and PARTY ANIMAL. I also worked on BLANKMAN, CAN YOU FEEL ME DANCING, THE ASSASINATION FILE and others.

As an actor my career was very heavy in television. Most people don’t realize how many times they’ve seen me in commercials and shows from the 80s and 90s. I’m very proud of OUT OF CONTROL which was Nickelodeon’s very first show they produced for themselves. Until then they had been buying shows produced for other networks. We started it all. OUT OF CONTROL starred Dave Coulier who would go on to do FULL HOUSE. OUT OF CONTROL had an ensemble cast that I loved. It was still the most fun I ever had going to work. A close second was the two seasons I spent on DALLAS. I did many shows and still get residual checks for 12 cents when one of those shows runs somewhere in the world.

 

 

What’s your favorite role you’ve ever played and why?

In film it was probably Trashman 1 in CREEPSHOW. It was so much fun making most of that performance up. Of course working with George Romero is always a treat and acting alongside my on screen partner Tom Savini is always a blast. We’ve been partners on screen 5 times. (DAWN OF THE DEAD, KNIGHTRIDERS, CREEPSHOW, EFFECTS, CHILDREN OF THE LIVING DEAD)

On TV it was HERN from OUT OF CONTROL. We had a lot of creative freedom with that show and my fellow cast members, directors and producers were just awesome to work with. An actor’s dream come true. If you search the show on Youtube there are many episodes there.

 

 

You have your very own production company called, SCHIFF MEDIA. Tell us about that.

Schiff Media was one of the first all digital production companies in the Pittsburgh region. It was started by my brother Bill and I with four XL1s and Final Cut Pro 2… we were early adapters. We did lots of commercials, a documentary or two and some special projects. We had a studio set up in the back of Schiff Printing Company and it was a lot of fun. I would move on to other projects and a new company called Jeffrey Martin Global Media. JMGM is more of a distribution company but we still do production from time to time. Recently, we produced a pilot for TV called THE ODDS… focusing on gambling.

 

 

What’s next for Marty Schiff?

I have some shows I’d like to get off the ground. A few game shows, some magazine shows and a film or two. I’m teaching directing for the Cinema Department at Point Park University, where I graduated from way back in the 20th century. I have some interests in non production businesses and I might even slow down a bit… no… that’s a lie… I’m happy working… I will sleep when I’m dead.

 

 

How can fans follow you and your updates about current and upcoming projects?

Fans can find me on Facebook and if they are professionals on LinkedIn. If they are interested in the film program at Point Park I’m always available to discuss that.

 

 

Words of advice for those who’d like to follow in your footsteps?

It’s not easy… but so worth it… and obviously not impossible. The key to success isn’t so much talent as perseverance, practice, commitment and believing in you. And … most importantly… be passionate about it.. live it… breathe it… love it. Never give up, make interesting and smart choices and be brilliant.

 

 

 

Marty Schiff